Many thanks to Skulker for alerting me to the spreading stench at the comics.com comments for Chickweed. A reader wrote to ask why the space suddenly closed up. This, with a few revisions, was my answer to him, which I then posted at the Pibgorn page on Gocomics. Members of the Order of The Couch there suggested I post the note here as well, and I take their advice.
“The comments section was walled up because I instructed my syndicate to do so. I began talking to my syndicate about closing it a few weeks back because of the few posts that kept creeping, on a daily basis, into the general discussion – comments that were, one way or the other, hateful, ugly, misogynistic, somewhat abusive or even threatening. Add to that, links to images that not only infringe upon my copyright but libel me into the bargain. My syndicate tried to dissuade me from closing up the commentary option; but I have to admit, every time I became aware of yet another flight of ugly fancy within its precincts, I became less convinced of the virtue of reserving it. I would seem to be punishing the many because of the actions of a few; however, I look upon commentary areas as watering holes where people can gather to talk and opine. When the water becomes polluted, I really think everybody should move to some nicer spot.
“I know some readers will feel that closing this avenue of expression smacks of censorship. However, my cartoons are always subject to detailed editorial review and censorship. I believe that misogynistic tirades and the general broadcast of hateful ugliness certainly deserve the same review. In my view, despite so many well-wishers, the comics.com watering hole is being repeatedly poisoned, and I don’t believe it should be an accompaniment to my work.”
I can only add to the above that I never object to criticism or dispute of my work. On the whole, I stay out of those issues, because I am going to do things the way I do them. I owe that to my readers, who can then argue the finer points.